If your interested in my work in critical food and nutrition studies, check out my shiny new professional site. I will be updating it with academic projects that carry on the work the work I do here at eathropology, only with much BIGGER words.
Although I’ve been called lots of things, my name is Adele Hite. And, paraphrasing the Car Talk guys, even though it might put the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics off its lunch to have to admit it, I am a Registered Dietitian-slash-Nutritionist, licensed in the state of North Carolina.
I completed the Masters of Public Health/Registered Dietitian program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and I also partially completed–passed my qualifying exams and oral exams and everything–a PhD program in Nutritional Epidemiology at the same institution. However, when my advisor left to take a position at a university many states away, I had difficulty finding another advisor.
I was told that my public health advocacy work had created some “baggage” that made some folks in nutrition epidemiology reluctant to work with me–and then I was told that this was not true. I was told that the department fully supports public health advocacy, but that there were “concerns” about my “scientific objectivity” (somehow related to my public health advocacy work? perhaps or perhaps not)–but I was never able to get a straight answer about exactly how these standards of “scientific objectivity” are defined, or by whom, or how my lack thereof had manifested itself.
Certainly, there are questions that need to be asked with regard to public health nutrition. I don’t know that there’s one particular answer–it is a complicated situation–but there are significant paradoxes worthy of closer examination. However, the message I seemed to be getting from many of the professors in my department was that simply raising questions regarding the Dietary Guidelines is considered a demonstrable lack of objectivity–although this perspective is likely to be hampered by my demonstrable lack of objectivity.
To my relief and surprise, in discussions with various deans in various locations throughout The Graduate School at UNC-Chapel Hill and my department, I was told that my interest in the Dietary Guidelines was, in fact, reasonable and worthy of scientific investigation. And in fact, the nutritional biochemistry division of my department had no problems with my advocacy work. However, I was told that if I wanted to stay in nutritional epidemiology, I was probably going to have to pursue a case of discrimination along with my PhD. Sigh.
In the end, the story turns out pretty happily-ever-after for me. I was given some amazing advice by a number of really brilliant individuals. I took a year off & got to work with some of my favorite scientists & writers on a project. I checked out other PhD programs, visited & interviewed. My favorite program turned out to be just down the road at North Carolina State University, where I am now working on a PhD in communication, rhetoric, and digital media. I LOVE it here. I have been challenged (Biochemistry? Pshaw. Try Deleuze.), coached, mentored, and encouraged. I’ve learned to ask questions I couldn’t have even articulated before I came here. My classmates are an incredible array of talented individuals. I’m having the time of my life.
I guess if I had never encountered any entrenched opposition to my questions about the Guidelines, it would weaken my hypothesis that there is opposition to those questions. And of course now I am beginning to understand that the “opposition” is not personal, but systemic and institutional. It is still just a little embarrassing and disappointing to have to acknowledge that an institution from which I hold 3 degrees is home to the lamest sort of academic stereotypes regularly lampooned by Matt Groening, but such is life:
In real non-grad school life, I’m married to my own personal rock n’ roll heartthrob, and I am mother to 3 children who embarrass me much less than I embarrass them. I do yoga, eat food, write songs, and read a lot. I am proud co-founder former policy wonk at (the now defunct) Healthy Nation Coalition, where I got my start in public health advocacy work.
For the record, I do not pretend to give dietary or medical advice here. Despite any pronouncements I might make, how would I know better than you what you should eat? Your own experiences and a healer you trust are your best guides; learn to listen to and to question them both and don’t be happy with answers that fall short of soothing both the soul and the body. No information given is meant to treat or diagnose any disease or nutritional ailment, although you may want to bring some of this information to the attention of the aforementioned trusted healer before you refill your next prescription.
For the record, I do not speak for any other organization or entity. My views do not reflect the views of nor are they endorsed or verified by any other individual or organization, including but not limited to: North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Gillings School of Global Public Health, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (cough), the USDA, the FDA, or my mother. If you want to know what they think, ask them.
Also for the record, I write my own material, so any inconsistencies, foolishness, missteps, and inaccuracies are mine and mine alone. What else would you expect from someone still trying to figure it all out?
96 thoughts on “About”
Just a minor point Adele, your “About” page should mention your name, maybe even start out with that early It’s curiously absent from the prose.
And it’s only taken how many years …? Thanks for pointing this out 🙂
I discovered this site by accident, and I got to say it is more entertaining than a Season of “Game of Thrones”. I am both pleased,and appalled that there isn’t an easier way to get a handle on nutrition. As an old distance runner, I’very tried many things, but at the end of the day, I go with what feels right and try to stay away from stuff in a box. (Or if it is in a box, I look for what isn’t absolute crap.) I also know what my body craves when I have put it to a major test, like running a 50K on minimal training. (The secret weapon is egg, bacon, and cheese burritos, but I have no idea why liquid fuels like Goo make me want to barf.) But other people thrive on what I can’t. And that is what makes makes things interesting. Thanks you for acknowledging that.
Thanks for dropping by! I’m convinced at this point that the biggest stumbling block to getting a grip on nutrition is exactly as you point out, different things work differently for different people. I have no idea why this is so difficult for so many people–from “just folks” to the nutrition cognoscenti–to accept. Folks who think that there should be a variety of diets considered “healthy,” nevertheless think that everyone should be slender. Other folks who think that bodies can be healthy at a diversity of sizes nevertheless think that everyone should be eating the same “healthy” diet (i.e. the one that the nutrition experts recommend). Sigh.
The only benefit here is that I’ll never run out of stuff to write about 🙂
I sure hope you’re considering publishing a book! I have personally synthesized a myriad of information for many sources and have come to many of the same that you have. Books, media, internet articles, TV, and even our very own federal government are so sold on these popular fad diets and, therefore, have no idea what nutrition is. I am flabbergasted by the sheer stupidity of some people.
I have even run across articles in favor of a particular diet that will quote an scientific journal out of context professing that it proves the diet to be right, but when I read the journal, it was actually proving it to be problematic and inconclusive. (FYI: This was the PRAL diet.) The best other websites selling fad diets can do is; not to cite any other sources other than itself and one other sites. And, in turn, the article from another site that it does cite doesn’t cite anything but itself and one other sites, with another article to the point where there are no primary sources or official scientific reports to prove anything stated.
In short, these fad diets serve nothing but to make certain people rich and spread a chaos of misinformation further perpetuated by our federal government’s self-contradicting dietary guidelines (the very name is ironic). It seems that the interest groups, such as PETA, green peace, Fad-Diets, etc., are lobbing to keep the truth regarding nutrition from all but the most sagacious of the general public in order to further their cause and/or capitalize on.
I’m very impressed by your blog and I wish you nothing but the greatest of success. Keep spreading the truth and fighting the good fight!
Opps… Err.. Should have proof read that before hitting enter… :$
I’m going to resist the former-high-school-English-teacher urge to circle the errors in red pen and hand your comment back to you 🙂
Your comment about chasing down citations and coming up with a big fistful of air? Welcome to my life. It’s one of the reasons I got sucked into this job. Early on in my MPH/RD program, our instructor asked up to look up a topic in the Evidence Analysis Library created by the (then) American Dietetic Association. My topic was the low-fat/low-calorie diet. Good grief. In many cases, there was NO evidence given for a statement–rather it was supported by “consensus.” Sometimes, “evidence” was given, but in the form of reports, summaries, and policy statements–not actual scientific studies. They could have called it the “Earwax Analysis Library” for all the “evidence” it contained.
This was one of the (many) things that made me realize that this isn’t about science. If our current mainstream dietary guidance were held to the same standards of evidence used to reject alternative dietary approaches (paleo, reduced-carb, etc.)–“there’s no highly generalizable, well-designed, long term, randomized controlled trials that prove safety and efficacy”–we would have no dietary guidance at all.
As for the “truth” about nutrition? Well, I’m not sure what that would be, but I am pretty sure we don’t have the methodology to figure it out–at least not for any sort of “truth” related to prevention of chronic disease and applied to an entire population. But thanks for the enthusiastic support & generous comments. I’d be happy to talk nutrition with you any day.
Just saw your reply… (I thought I was getting notifications.)
That’s exactly what I mean about the “truth” about nutrition”. Much about biology and nutrition, I’ll bet has yet to be discovered. Nutrition is further complicated by individual goals, habits, environment gender, race, and epigenetics. Personally, though I’d love to know all the facets of nutrition, I also find the mysteries exciting. I’m sure there are even undiscovered nutrients.
Everything we thought we knew about nutrition seems to be called in to question given contemporary scientific methods. Something I realized is that daily values especially for micro-nutrients and amino acids are something more akin to guessing game by the USDA as there are so many factors. Height, weight, age are just a few but so are absorption rates, activity levels, foods they’re derived from, nutrient half-life, genetics, and the list goes on. So when estimation is compounded upon estimation; it’s like being only a ½” off but from 100 miles away, you may wind up missing the target by a mile.
One thing seems for certain, however, at least for adults given contemporary research, a reduction in carbs is really the way to go. Learning about this never surprised me but actually doing it really opened my eyes. Carbs had always been my go to food before. Now that I’ve cut down on them, I realize how much product is out there that is packed full of carbs. They’re analogous to bacteria and our planet; they simply overwhelm everything in every store. I never realized it before! Seriously, it like 2/3 or more of any store!
Anyway, it’s fun to see other’s comments on your well researched articles -that really have no idea what they’re talking about. They’re so convinced that people like Dr. Michael Greger is the God of nutrition and all those that oppose him will be destroyed and they get so passionate! I love it. When I want a laugh I read through them (and your sagacious witty replies). Dare I ask; what’s your take on this Dr. Michael Greger guy anyway?
Keep up the good work! You have enough material on your blog for a good book. I hope you’re planning on writing one. Let me know if you do!
Dr. Michael Greger. At the end of my comments at the 2015 DGAC public hearings, he’s the guy looking around to see what the eff just happened (see for yourself–I’m at 46.42). Some funny guy commented on my blog that he agreed with everything I said, “in the “I thought Spinal Tap was a real band” kinda way.” Truth.
I actually feature his book in a slide I use when talking about the DGA. I show the cover of the book–How Not to Die, spelled out in veggies, for those of you too
lazybusy to google it. I use it to illustrate that the central ideological tenet of the Guidelines, which is that individual food choices affect risk of chronic disease, is amusingly obvious when taken to its (his) illogical extreme. However, the rest of the time we seem to simply accept the notion that we “know” what food choices will raise or lower our risk of chronic disease, even though, as you’ve pointed out, we’ve barely begun to figure out what each of us actually need in terms of essential nutrition. Granted we all have different versions of the magical/evil foods that will protect us from harm/cause us to die badly, but we believe in them nonetheless. Sometimes it seems to me that all these arguments about which dietary pattern is the healthiest is like fighting about whether or not the Tooth Fairy can beat up the Easter Bunny.
Hi Adele! I’m currently in the middle of my DI and it’s so nice to find more like-minded people online! During my undergrad I attempted at posting a video about basic nutrition and I was bombarded with hate and ridicule by the “paleo” and “keto” world right away about why my “views” are flawed and incorrect. Even now while I’m a little bit wiser and learning more everyday, and more confident, I still get questioned about my knowledge and what he/she on TV, or in media, said makes more sense than me. It’s so frustrating!!!! That’s why I love your blog! I just found it today and I couldn’t be happier. Hopefully I can find a way to subscribe and get updates.
Ugh. I would like to offer my apologies on behalf of the paleo/keto rudeness. As Buckaroon Banzai said, “Don’t be mean; we don’t have to be mean. Cuz, remember, no matter where you go, there you are.” And here you are! And as I hope you’re learning, nobody (not mainstream nutrition, not alt nutrition communities like paleo and keto, not nobody) has a monopoly on knowledge about food & health (or obnoxious behavior). We are all of us still learning, mostly since we don’t have a methodology to confirm even a tenth of what we think we know! 🙂 Welcome & good luck during that internship.
Just stumbled across your ‘broccoli vs. beef’ post. You are funny as hell, and a real opinionated-with-common-sense blogger. I will continue to read your rants with enthusiasm.
For the record, what are your thoughts about Barry Sears, Mr. “Enter The Zone”? I like the idea of getting all three macronutrients at each meal and ensuring you are selecting the best quality carbs, fats and proteins for your age/height/build and your weight goals. It generally has worked for me, if for no other reason than it makes me PAY ATTENTION, STUPID! to what I’m eating.
I’m the funniest person I know 🙂 Thanks for the kind words. Hmm. I’m a fan of “whatever works for you.” The Zone Diet has plenty going for it, but it always made me feel like it turned dinner into a calculus problem. And that probably means I paid LESS attention 🙂
Please contact me about a telephone interview…..
Hi! I am a like minded individual looking at completing an M.S at Montana State University in sustainable food systems and potentially my R.D. I would love to email you and ask you some questions. If you have the time.
Please do! My gmail is adele [dot] hite.
Yes, that was it. Thank you!! An excellent point.
Hi Adele, I’m happy to have found you here! I have a note from your talk at the Critical Dietetics conference that I can’t make sense of and I’m hoping you can help me out because I’m sure it’s incredibly profound!! I wrote:
Hungry or tired? vs. cholesterol levels (disembodiment)
Does that ring any bells? Thanks 🙂
I think I was saying that “hegemonic nutrition” (as in the DGA) privileges expert knowledge over embodied experience. Embodied personal experiences related to food and health are de-emphasized or discounted; natural biological signals such as hunger or fatigue are dismissed. Instead emphasis is placed on aspects of food that could not be known at all without the intervention of science or medicine: levels of saturated fat, number of calories, effect on serum cholesterol levels. Like anybody knows just what their cholesterol numbers are at any given moment. But we all know when we are tired or hungry. Why should our DGA emphasize the former and disregard the latter?
Does that help?
Love love love this blog and the healthy dose of sarcasm, my favourite thing to accompany all things nutrition science.
Thanks for the kind words! I’m very honored to have a HAES person following, as I’m new to that area. I’d begun to figure out the whole “why are we focusing on weight if this is public HEALTH?” thing? (After all we don’t call it “public weight nutrition,” now do we?), but I hadn’t realized how weight-based thinking has infected so many aspects of nutrition/food work. I had the great pleasure of meeting Lucy Aphramor at the recent Critical Dietetics conference, and I’m beginning to see how her work brings together so many threads of my own. Glad to have you along! Looking forward to having you help me learn more about HAES.
This morning one of my friends reminded me of the “broccoli vs steak” thing (or better said- joke) and I didn’t have any solid facts to argue against so I decided to research it a bit and here I am, reading your blog. I really like your style, I see balanced researcher-type thinking plus wit and humor.
I’ve been reading nutrition-related books and articles for a few years because I have been struggling with excess weight for a long time and I wanted a better solution, something healthy and long term. This year I have chosen nutrition as my profession and I’m currently studying to accomplish that. It is my dream to be able to do what you did with your post – to educate/inform and give people the chance to make their choices based on science, not on rumours, media trends and fad diets.
Thanks again for a great post 🙂
Thanks so much for the kind comments! You made my day. Please keep me posted about your journey through the (mine)field of nutrition & feel free to contact me anytime. Not that I can provide much help, but we can at least cry on each other’s shoulders–and then hopefully laugh about it!
I am so so stoked I found your blog! I’ve been neglecting my online microbiology lecture and instead reading your posts. As everyone else is saying, your sarcasm and delivery is refreshing and hilarious. But most importantly, it resonates truth, or at least in comparison to many other articles/blogs/what-have-you that I’ve read. I can’t stop reading.
So I’m asking for some advice, and no I will not stop everything that I’m doing and pursue it blindly, so please do not be wary to tell me straight.
I am currently enrolled in a Coordinated Dietetics Program in Michigan (unfortunately MI, but hey I can’t afford out-of-state tuition and housing elsewhere). I love the sciences more than anything – especially chemistry (although I feel inadequate in laboratory), but obviously nutrition is my ‘passion’. I hate to use that word. But really, I had a total colectomy at the age of 17. Before the surgery (that i regret) i tried everything in my power with diet and exercise to ‘fix’ my digestion issues – to no avail and now being colonless for 6 years I’ve no true idea what to do and am constantly seeking answers. What’s happened to my gut flora? Am I chronically dehydrated? Etc. Plus, most of my family is overweight with serious health issues due to our owning an Italian restaurant – then a few of my cousins have been anorexic and bulimic. I myself have nearly always had an unhealthy relationship with food since I was overweight as a child. Basically I realize how insanely important proper nutrition is. Gosh, sorry to ramble. My goal, which is probably standard, is to be an honest /helpful/ influential voice in the nutrition world. I don’t want to ignite unhealthy eating habits or land someone on their way to syndrome X (one reason why I don’t want to learn about the food pyramid and low fat bullshit diets in my RD training). I work at a hospital nutrition call center and have to constantly tell “cardiac” patients that eggs are evil…. However, I’m not sure what other routes to take.
Any input? Also, you’re amazing if you read all of this. And thanks!
Jillian, Although some might disagree, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with becoming an RD. It gives you license to practice in some places where you otherwise would not be able to so legally. The only problem is that you have to learn a lot of stuff on your own (which you are clearly capable of doing). I admire and encourage your interest the sciences–and “especially chemistry.” Biochemistry is the heart of nutrition care (not the U.S. Dietary Guidelines as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics would have you think), so whenever you can, take more biochem classes! In my program, my advisor let me start the biochem series the first year (usually it starts second year), so I could squeeze some extra biochem in during the second year.
As for your own health issues and family dietary patterns, this is not an uncommon theme. Nearly all of my classmates had their own stories: health problems, struggles with weight, disordered eating, family history of lifestyle-related diseases, etc. It makes a lot of sense that such circumstances would pique an interest in nutrition.
It is important to remember that, while the AND might oversee our training and certification, you never have to become a member if you don’t want to, and they have little control over your day to day practice. There is a lot of pressure to join, yes. And there is a fair amount of boogey-man type intimidation/scare tactics (Oooooh, if you don’t practice exactly how you are told to you’ll be arrested, etc. etc.) Here’s how it works though. It takes other RDs to “turn you in.” The AND central organization is too busy weaseling money out of food and drug companies to bother with what you are saying to your clients. But other RDs, who may resent the fact that clients prefer your science-based tactics to their government policy-based ones, aren’t. The proper response to this is not to abandon your pursuit, but to build networks of RDs who support your right to practice using the knowledge you’ve learned and your own clinical judgement.
Finally, this may be something you want to look into: Certified Nutrition Specialist. In the world of nutrition professionals, this is the certification that has finally broken the RD monopoly on Medicare-paid nutrition care (and will eventually, I hope, break the one on insurance-paid nutrition care–which there is not much of now, but that may be because the only nutrition care offered is the relatively ineffective kind offered by RDs). The qualifications are more stringent (you must have a masters or PhD) and from what I’ve heard the exam is harder (more biochem & medical nutrition therapy oriented). There is a relatively strong nutrition science professional organization behind this (the American College of Nutrition, which unlike the AND accepts no funding from industry).
I hope this helps some. If you’d like to talk more, just email me. My gmail is adele[dot]hite.
Through the wonders of the internets I found my way to your blog vis a vis a link related to your post on “The Big Fat Surprise.” If only I could remember the chain of links that got me here to give credit where it’s due, but, alas, the new world of quick cuts and context-free sound bites is destroying my short term memory. As my literary hero sayeth, “So it goes.”
I am here at the moment to encourage you to pursue writing on a grander scale. You got the goods in that department, so stand on the scientific base you’ve built, and let it rip. Ain’t a whole lot of fo reals dietitians espousing your point of view, so you’ve got a somewhat unique angle to work from. Obviously. Your stuff is top notch. Bring more of it. Please.
Aw shucks. Thanks for the kind words. So nice to get up on a Monday morning to such encouragement, rather than the usual vegan hatemail. I intend to do as you suggest. I’ve been sifting through this stuff for a while, trying to understand the players and the politics. The question that nags at me most persistently–and the one that I think I want to pursue in full-length form–is how/why the “uptake” of the Dietary Guidelines happened. It seems to me that in those post-Watergate, unsafe-at-any-speed years, we (the American public, as well as researchers, scientists, healthcare professionals) might have been thoroughly suspicious of a government pronouncement that seemed to indicate that the powers-that-were knew what was “right” for all of us to eat. But we weren’t. That question percolates right up to now, where every other article I read on the internet is a different take on how to tell “real science” from “junk science”–skepticism abounds, but then so does confirmation bias. It seems that the undermining of public health policy and nutrition science that Al Harper predicted when the DGA were created has in fact come to pass. If that’s the case, how do we avoid similar future scenarios? It’s a big sweep that would include a look at nutrition epidemiology, vegetarian ideology, human biology and biochemistry, and the rhetoric of science and of policy.
And then, the challenge for me is to make this all entertainingly readable and about 300 pages long 🙂
You mentioned that you started drinking diet soda after you stopped being a vegetarian because you hated fat, not sugar. What? – Diet soda doesn’t contain sugar. It does contain a bunch of crap chemicals that you MUST know are not good for you or any living thing in ANY way. It’s hard to seriously consider nutritional advice or information from someone who drinks diet soda (and is so sarcastic and nasty). Good luck to you.
I don’t drink diet soda anymore, but I am still sarcastic and nasty.
Great post. Will be sharing with my family (daughter is going into Exercise Science/Diet….)
I wish her the best of luck. It’s a jungle out there.
Your beef vs broccoli post was legendary. Great research.
Be careful at your age to make too many judgements with such “certainty”.
Hmmm. I’m pretty uncertain about most stuff. So I wonder to which “judgements” [sic] you are referring.
Hi Adele 🙂
I just read your beef vs broccoli blog, including comments, and I must say that you are a real trooper. A class act. I love your style. People should revisit reading comprehension skills from time to time. Activism: where misguided passion blurs logic. I have bookmarked this blog 🙂
Thanks for the kind words and the new definition for activism. Sounds like something Ambrose Bierce would have said before disappearing into the desert.
This is true. While Ambrose and I may share some common traits, curiosity in wartime matters is not one of them, so I will be holding off the disappearing act as long as I can. 🙂
Wow – came across your blog while researching ways to get into the Paleo thing. Everyone swears by it. It was so amazing to hear you saying the same things I have been thinking for awhile – the biggest one being that if this food is supposed to be so much better for us, why does it have to cost so much? Why do only people of privilege get to “save” themselves and their children? We aren’t talking about everyone getting ipods or something, this is food – something which is vital to our existence – and healthy eating is a right, not a privilege. Problem is, I don’t know where to go from here. What steps to take, if you will. I am up against two big issues:
1) We are a family of four and on food stamps (which were just lowered by at least $100) and I am the only breadwinner in the family. My husband is in school, hoping to get a better job. I work at UNC, which is what attracted me to your blog in the first place!
2) My son is not only anaphylactic to fish but has lots of sensory issues (he is on the ASD spectrum) so I just don’t see something like Paleo working in our house when he refuses to eat foods that are mixed together and/or contain anything other than starch or carbs, ha ha! My daughter will eat almost anything we put in front of her, thankfully.
How do we go about setting up a healthier, nutritional way of eating that can fit within our food budget? I need to lose weight (230lbs, 5’7″) but more because I don’t feel good anymore. I am perfectly healthy, I just internally know I have reached the point where I need to do something else. How can I begin to introduce foods into my son’s diet which are more balanced and healthy without every night being a battle?
Given the struggles with my son, and working, and behavioral/emotional issues with my daughter I am just too exhausted to try to weave my way through the minefield of the “what-to-eat” world. Our son’s dermatologist has said we can go dairy and wheat free if we want to in order to find out if that improves our son’s eczema. But honestly, that is all the kid eats!
You seem like such a kindred spirit in many ways 🙂 I am hoping you will be able to offer some suggestions and rescue me from my pitiful nutrition-less world.
Since you live nearby, how about–instead of me typing out a bunch of semi-incomprehensible info that may or may not be of use to you–we should get together and talk. My schedule is crazy for about 5 more weeks (end of semester), but you can email me (gmail acct is adele.hite) and we can see if we can get together.
I haven’t enjoyed such a good read for a long time. Wit, wisdom and joined -up-thinking all in one blog. You now have an avid reader in me. Thank You Adele.
Thanks for the kind words. I’m afraid most of my energies are going into grad school these days, rather than blogging, but I hope to have some interesting projects & writing to share in the near future.
I think that much of your comparisons are rubbish. The one where you compared steak with broccoli is ridiculous because a person does not sit down and just eat broccoli and call it a day’s meal. Broccoli is just one source of food a person eats. To isolate a particular food and examine it microscopically and then pursue a witch hunt of a person is not communication so I hope your new Ph.D. program teaches you balance in presentation of information.
Lynde, it’s not a witch hunt at all, IMO. The inflated broccoli protein content is just one of the blatant lies we’re being fed by one of the new faux-nutrition gurus to get us to stop eating meat. If they can convince you that all these different vegetables have so much protein (or that you can even absorb it in that form), you’ll adopt their diet. And buy all the artificial supplements they’re selling because the veg diet does not, in fact, contain the proteins and other nutrients you need to keep you healthy.
Whatever anybody wants to put into their bodies is up to them. But the public policy that goes along with it is starting to mandate these diet myths. My employer-sponsored wellness program is starting to adopt the veg-is-better mentality. As of 2014, we can get extra points toward saving money on our health insurance premiums if we see a “health counselor” 3 times during the year. How much of that is going to be pushing their own dietary preferences, with lower health insurance premiums at stake if you don’t go along? I went veg for over a decade and my health suffered drastically, in ways I could never admit when I was eating that way.
Thanks for having my back! I’m seeing all sorts of weird nutrition-police-state things coming down the pike with regard to health insurance these days. One friend was saying that his policy gave a discount for saying “yes” to the question, “Do you eat 5 servings of vegetables a day?” He was wondering just how many people would be stupid enough to say “no” to that. And then, we’ll get “data” back from such surveys indicating that 1) Americans are eating more veggies and 2) Americans must be lying about eating more veggies because 3) Americans, veggies be damned, are still fat. And so, the fun begins.
I’m afraid you can’t really hand me the credit for the idea of comparing the protein content of broccoli vs. steak. I believe that honor goes to Dr. Joel Furhman. It was his isolated examination (although not quite microscopically) of what passes for protein in broccoli that prompted me to write that particular post. It would have never occurred to me to make such an absurd comparison, and certainly not with regard to protein content, if it hadn’t been for his assertion that broccoli has more protein than steak. I would agree with you that perhaps such a comparison should not be made in the first place, and I wholeheartedly agree that few people sit down and eat a pile of broccoli and call it a day’s meal. (I like to eat my pile of broccoli with steak and call it a meal.) Which brings me to the question of communication.
I’m learning many wicked and wonderful things in my program, but one of the main lessons I am learning (courtesy of Foucault, Carey, Latour, and Science & Technology Studies in general) is that “objective scientific proclamations” are never “objective”–which problematizes the whole idea of “scientific” and certainly complicates our understanding of who makes these “proclamations” and why. My new program has taught me the importance of asking, as I did before, why, if Dr. Furhman has at his disposal the same information that I have at mine, he did not choose to cite more recent and more comprehensive sources for making that comparison? In fact, the question remains, as you have so astutely pointed out: why did Furhman choose to emphasize the comparison of protein content between broccoli and meat rather than, say, broccoli and potatoes in the first place? Is there a larger social-political context of which we should be aware when examining the validity of his original comparison and of my response to it? The answer, of course, is yes. Dr. Furhman is one of many researchers and clinicians who believe that consumption of saturated fat from animal sources is at the root of many chronic diseases. This perspective is often difficult to separate from concerns regarding animal welfare and environmental impacts of large-scale animal production processes. While I share those latter concerns, my own review of the science–and the politics surrounding how the belief that Furhman and others hold regarding sat fat came to be so well-established–leads me to think there is far more to this issue than either scientific issues or industrial practices.
Your own communication choices offer some interesting considerations. I present a blog post that serves–in my perspective–to “balance” Furhman’s limited, out-dated, and (to me) one-sided presentation of what he considers to be “facts,” yet you seem to think my presentation lacks “balance.” Your own choice of the words “witch hunt” to describe the context in which I explore the problematics of making the comparison in the way that Furhman did also are a deliberate communication choice, which seem to imply that I am “out to get” Furhman in some way. Nope. I’m sure he’s a very nice person & I admire his figure skating abilities tremendously. When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be Peggy Fleming (true story). But it is interesting to me that you are willing to ascribe to me such motives–as I’m a person whom you’ve never met and whom you might find to be actually a likable and knowledgeable person if I weren’t challenging some beliefs that you apparently hold quite dear. It is this emotional response to having, in particular, our food beliefs challenged that is very much a part of what I get to study in my new program. Yay!
Thank you for your blog, I’ve really enjoyed reading it. I stumbled across it when I heard someone make the claim about Broccoli having more protein than steak. I was wondering if you have any thoughts or have done a post on the meal substitute called ‘Soylent’ (https://campaign.soylent.me/soylent-free-your-body). It sounds too good to be true which of course immediately makes me skeptical. Really I’m wondering if what they’re proposing is even possible. Thanks again for the blog.
Cute name. I guess my first concern is that what is “in” food, even after it goes “in” the body, is not necessarily “in” your body. Food is complicated, so is digestion and metabolism. This is one of the reasons that veganism can be problematic for some. It may look like you are getting everything you need, but that doesn’t mean that’s the case.
My second issue would be the “really?” part. Food is more than just nutrition. Food is love and connection and social interaction and deliciousness and memories and comfort and lots of other stuff. I really wonder what a food life would look like without at least some of that.
I have also found your blog through Authority Nutrition. I love your style! And oh dear have you been upsetting the apple cart at uni by not towing the party line! It’s good to see that you are following in the footsteps of Dr Mary Enig who was one of the first to speak out about cholesterol and fats being healthy for you. She was also much reviled by the nutritional community! I hope that you get to finish your studies one day and have the opportunity to work in public health and change some views. My doctor is still advocating a low fat diet and cutting out egg yolks. I did a short healthy living course at work last year and the diet section was all low fat, moderate carb. The low fat way of thinking is so ingrained now and so wrapped up with the food industry and pharmaceutical industry, it is going to take a long time to change mainstream thinking!
Thanks so much for the words of support! My husband says that whenever anything I think is awful happens to me, 6 months later I’m saying, “It’s the best possible thing that could have happened.” This is true about getting cold-shouldered at UNC’s Department of Nutrition’s epidemiology division. While there are many faculty there I admire and respect, I am thrilled to be starting a Communications, Rhetoric, and Digital Media PhD program at North Carolina State University in about a month. It sounds like a weird transition, but if you think about it–outside of a hospital setting–nutrition is all about communication, and this is especially true in public health. This program encompasses academic areas such as rhetoric of science (how science is created, how it is communicated, and how it is used by stakeholders) and the rhetoric of policy (same sort of thing, but in the policy arena). I expect to use my area of expertise (nutrition) as the launchpad for investigation into things like: how nutrition information is created and how it becomes “fact;” how nutrition policy becomes “science;” what is happening when a “consensus” is called for in an area of controversy in nutrition; how industry, policy, and science interact around the issues of food and nutrition–I could go on and on. You can see that I am going to be as happy as a pig in a puddle. The faculty and my fellow students in the program have been incredibly forthcoming with research ideas that would build on my nutrition background, so I think that I’ll get to do some really exciting work there. I will keep everyone posted of course.
Have you given up on nutritional epidemiology?
One of your recent posts on salt made me think you’ve changed your beliefs on the “usefulness” of it.
Your new PhD program sounds wonderfully broad and generalized as opposed to most very specialized graduate programs.
In many respects, yes, but then, I didn’t have much of a choice. I considered finishing up in biochemistry, but I really wanted that ability to take a broad perspective, as you mentioned.
I’ve learned a lot about what nutrition epidemiology can and can’t do, and I think it is largely misused in conventional nutrition discourse, especially with regard to policy. I still think nutrition epidemiology is useful, but not the way we use it now. We need to get nutrition epidemiologists out of their cozy little cubbyholes and out into the real world. Enough with using ancient moldy datasets that are just about as processed and refined as the foods they end up pointing us all towards. We need a little old-fashioned shoe-leather epidemiology, where researchers get out there and find out what is happening to specific populations, in specific places, NOW. We are so focused on giving people dietary advice based on findings from white healthcare professionals born in the first half of the LAST century–and then wringing our hands over whether or not they follow that advice–that we have no idea how young people in the US are making sense of the proliferation of food information that is literally right at their fingertips. So yeah, I’m excited to be doing something different 🙂
Interesting Subjects Indeed
I Recently Watched A Video From David Diamond PhD Where He Shares His Story Of Doing His Own Nutrition Research To Gain Control Of His Own Health Instead Of Following The Advice Of His Cardiologist (Who Is Now On Lipitor)
He Makes Mention That Most Of The Science Behind Our Current Dietary Recommendations Was Done By Doctors / Researchers That Where Either Directly Paid By Or Invested Heavily In The Pharmaceutical And Or Product Producers….. Or A Heavy Financial Conflict If Interest…..
Good Luck On Your Next Quest
Thanks for the good wishes. I think funding is certainly an issue, mostly because if researchers don’t publish–and what gets published is influenced by what we already think we know is true–they don’t get funded. This perpetuates the status quo in ways that go beyond being a stooge for pharma, but there may very well be some of that too.
As “they” say Adele when one door closes another door opens! Your new project sounds absolutely awesome and I feel that it will fill a much needed gap. I have seen people such as Gary Taubes and David Gillespie reviled many times because they are not dietitians/doctors/nutritionists whatever. I am not sure why people think that the work done by people who do years and years of research albeit without a piece of paper, is not relevant. So your work will be very, very exciting indeed.
I was born in 1957 when people ate bread and dripping, cooked in dripping, ate butter, bacon, meat fat etc. You might see somebody who was a little chubby but never ever saw an obese person and nobody died of heart attacks and diabetes was unknown. Of course we walked more – most of us had to catch public transport, walk to school and no computers, no soft drink, sweets once a week and chips were a once a week treat. Then when I hit uni at 18 years of age, stopped all exercise, started eating rubbish and gained weight, unfortunately that’s when the low fat dieting started and I have struggled ever since!
The universe was definitely directing you on to a new path!
I hope to continue my work as a nutritionist (I am officially a Registered Dietitian, making me, according to our own professional organization, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, on of the food and nutrition experts). I am hoping to be able to see clients as a way of “reality-checking” my own thinking and presuppositions.
Thanks for putting me in your “dishing” section. I enjoy reading you very much.
Have you done a blog on the China Study? I’m always being asked about it and, though I’ve read it, I don’t have the time to completely dissect it. Got any thoughts or resources? I’m also curious about the perspective on vegetarianism and health in university nutrition programs. Is primal diet still ignored? Is vegetarianism still seen as more healthful?
Like you I think, I am a believer in practical eating styles. If you look at the health outcomes for most of the people in the 20th century who claimed that they had the answers to healthful eating, they are not very impressive! It’s a work in progress because our food sources and even our own biology our constantly changing.
And thank you for such an informative blog. It is refreshing to hear a perspective that acknowledges that that there is not one “right” answer at least in part because two of the primary variables in making successful lifestyle and health changes–the environment and the individual–are themselves constantly changing.
I have not needed to write a post on the China Study because there are a couple of people who have already covered that territory thoroughly: Denise Minger, a former vegan, who has a great deal of admiration for Colin Campbell the person, but not so much for his book, and Harriet Hall from Science-Based Medicine.org, who looks at the Campbell/Minger conversation from the larger perspective of what epidemiological evidence can and can’t tell us. (The comments to that post are worth a read as well; here’s a gem from “Dash” – “Anyone who tries to argue an absolute based on one unmeasured but continuous variable in a complex system is far into the realms of pseudo-science.”) Campbell has responded to some of the criticisms, and there are both earlier (from Hall) and later (from Minger) posts on the same subject.
Just found your blog through Authority Nutrition. I adore your sarcasm. Keep up the good work.
Welcome! My family has frequently informed me that what I think of as my gentle chiding wit does very often come across as sarcasm. Oh well. I do hope I manage to balance that with a little compassion here and there, but then again, forget ’em if they can’t take a joke, right?
🙂 i am OFTEN reminded by my wonderful wife that i am substantially lacking in “Grey Area”
i dont like blending the black & white to make folks happy
I’m right with you Ray. As mother of three, I’ve learned that the only possible way that you can influence someone else’s ability to be happy–you can “make” someone happy anymore than you can “make” someone eat; if you try to, you’re likely to end up with your efforts sprayed back in your face–is to show them how it’s done.
I keep myself pretty happy by not being afraid of a good belly laugh or a good pork belly or even a good poke in the belly. It’s all good.
Very refreshing Blog and an RD that is open minded……
I great information and a good source for my “Changing Ray” test project. 🙂
Having challenged my primary Doctor to let me go Very Low Carb / no grains for a 6 month experiment instead of the typical cocktail of drugs to out smart my family history of heart disease and start reversing 45+ years of bad eating……
Please keep me posted about the Changing Ray project. Do you have a blog? I hope it goes well and you can figure out what you need to do to avoid a pharmaceutical festival.
I will keep you posted. My wife and i are working on getting a blog setup and linked to her website. For now i post updates on my facebook page. Once i get the blog setup i will send you the link
Thanks! Looking forward to hearing more.
Wanted to share the 6 month followup results from my Dr.s visit with you
Jan 2013 Physical LDL was 125
LDL after 6 months HF LC Keto off & on 127
2013 Physical HDL 34
HDL after 6 months HF LC Keto off & on 46
Jan 2013 Physical Triglycerides 130
Triglycerides after 6 months HF LC Keto off & on 87
total weight loss was 9+ pounds
Very little to no exercise
YAY for Ray!!!!
Thanks so much for checking back in and sharing your results. Way to go.
I have to say, I sort of really appreciate the “very little to no exercise” part. I’ve begun to feel recently, that exercise has become just as big of a stick for public health people to beat folks up with as diet has ever been. I’m tired of it (so tired that I might just take a nap).
I’m all for activity, or better yet, play. (Remember when moms used to say, “Go outside and play”–not “Go exercise”?) But exercise is one more thing for us to feel morally bereft about if we don’t want to do it and therefore we don’t, or resentful about if we don’t want to do it and we do it anyway. (Which isn’t to say that if you LUV exercise that’s a bad thing–nope, not at all. Go run or bike or whatever. I’ll be here, reading–or napping.)
The best diet is the diet that allows you to live the life you want to lead with the health you want to have. I’m not interested in any diet that is going to require me to exercise in order for it to “work”–that’s not how I define my health. Ray, it looks like you’ve found one that works for you. I hope you are feeling happy and well (along with improved biomarkers). Remember to stay flexible (i.e. I hope you have a life & not just a diet–but I get from the “off & on” that this is likely the case).
Thanks again for checking in. I wish you continued success as you pursue your idea of health.
A friend just forwarded a link to your blog and I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy & appreciate your style. Thanks so much, I look forward to reading more…
Thanks so much for the kind words. Auburn Meadow Farms–what a lovely name; sounds like a beautiful place. It’s been an interesting journey. I’m delighted to have you along for the ride.
Hi, Adele! I’ve written before to say how much I enjoy your blogs. I was wondering if you could help me out. I’ll try to keep it short and to the point.
I’m 57 years old, about 20 pounds overweight, and LC/ketogenic (the 80/20 rule) for about 14 years now. I started menopause at age 50; had 2 slight periods that year, none since. At age 51, I started bio-identical hormones (estradiol and progesterone from a compounding pharmacy, under the care of a gyno). So, that means 6 years on bio-identical hormones.
Lately I’ve been thinking that it might be time to stop (my gyno has been mentioning this to me every year). I’ve rationalized that I still need the hormones because if I skip 3 or 4 days my hot flashes, night sweats, and weepies come back with a vengeance. But could that simply be rebound from stopping cold turkey?
For maybe the past 3 or 4 months I’ve been feeling REALLY lousy. Very sad and low about things. I don’t like to say I’m “depressed” because of all the baggage that word comes with. For example, I’m usually over the top about Christmas decorating. My theme of “Wretched Excess” has been replaced this year by the theme of “MInimalism,” and that done only grudgingly.
I have no energy, and can’t remember when I last felt really good for more than a few fleeting moments at a time. Not sleeping well, either.
I’m also starting to gain weight again. I had gotten down to 167 (from around 195) by April 2011 and stayed there until July 2012, at which time I started gaining here and there. I’m now at 177. My eating has been quite good, lots of good fats and protein, limited carbs (30ish a day), probably around 1500 calories per day, virtually no processed foods. I’m about 90% gluten-free at the moment. Sure, i can do “better” on all counts, but I’m also so blessed tired of counting every gram of food, tweaking macronutrient percentages, etc.
I’ve considered going the “nutritional ketosis” route ala Jimmy Moore, but my online “research” has shown that the 80-85% fat route works better for men than for post-menopausal women. Many scientific studies, moreover, show that women over 50 tend to do better on MORE protein (meaning, around 100 grams a day, as advocated by people like Phinney and Volek) rather than less (as advocated by people like Nora Gedgaudas, Jan Kwasniewski, etc.).
It just shouldn’t be this hard, ya know?
I’m just starting to wonder whether the hormones that did me so much good are now holding me back. I read these three articles by ItsTheWoo (I’m sure you’ve heard of her, as she is quite vocal in the LC world):
She got me thinking that I should definitely drop the progesterone, and start cutting back on the estrogen.
I’ve looked online, but can’t find any advice on stopping the hormones. The only thing I found was to “wean yourself off over the course of 2 to 4 months.” I suppose I could ask my gyno, but that would be too easy, right? 😉
I was wondering if you had any advice for post-menopausal women regarding bio-identical hormones and how to stop once you’ve started. How long is too long to be on them? Could they in fact be the cause of my lethargy?
I’m just stopping by, but I saw that you were having some trouble (how is the life at the moment, any better?)
I’m not even close to an expert, but I’ve read a lot of the paleo science as you seem to have.
I’d agree with you on the protein, eat more of it. Protein is super filling and thermogenic (burns while you digest it) so it’d certainly help. To make that easier, and as a second possible fix, I’d add back in carbs because you don’t want to be in ketosis no-man’s-land from slightly too much protein. Now, clearly you enjoy eating low-carb at this point, so I’d say do carb-refeeds on workout days and stay a bit above ketosis on rest days (just eat more veggies and/or a bit of potato, but not a lot of potato).
It’s probably not thyroid issues, but it’s rumored that low-calorie + low-carb can be a problem, so I’d test out (with like, adding a potato or two to your diet, not counting calories) some macronutrient ratios and see if you feel better. The leptin-spiking carb refeed will definitely help with resting energy expenditure and will feel good in the short term at the very least.
I would slowly wean off the hormones for sure, but make it a slow process and try and see if any diet-changes help first (if not, then just go ahead with it). I’m not an expert on hormones, but you’d definitely see some sort of biosynthetic impairment if you’ve been supplementing with synthetic hormones so take it slow and let your body recover etc.
Hi, Whitefox! Thanks for the response. I’m actually doing a bit better. I weaned off the hormones over the course of about 4 weeks and felt AWFUL! Terrible hot flashes (5 or 6 a day), night sweats every night, waking up at 1:00 am every night and not being able to sleep again until 4:00 (need to get up at 5:00), depressive mood, you name it. Got back on the hormones and feel really good. I’m taking bio-identical hormones, by the way, not synthetic. In fact, I’ve found several studies online that show significant benefits from taking bio-identical hormones for the long term, so I’m not worrying about it anymore.
Carbs don’t agree with me at all. If I eat just a few more carbs, like up to 60 a day from more veggies (which give me terrible constipation at that level, by the way) or a potato here and there, I can gain like crazy. For example, I had added in a few more carbs in the form of a some sweet potato, or a couple rice crackers, more veggies, etc. recently, and gained 8 pounds within a couple weeks. No, carbs are not my friends.
I really see nothing wrong with ketosis. I’m not in heavy ketosis ala Jimmy Moore, but probably mild to moderate. I have been eating plenty of protein, around 100 – 120 grams a day (as recommended by Eades and Phinney).
For those of us with “broken” metabolisms, individual tweaking is what’s called for. What works for one doesn’t work for another. We have to be ever vigilant, unfortunately. I look around and see lean people eating all kinds of things that I “can’t” eat without negative effects. I’ll admit to being more than a little envious. I also see all kinds of post-menopausal women almost proudly carrying around and displaying their “meno-pots” and tummy rolls and not being self-conscious at all about it or about eating a regular meal in a restaurant or stopping for an ice cream after yoga class. Yup, I’m envious of them, too.
So, it’s a struggle, but that’s life. Thanks for caring enough to respond to my post.
Individualized approaches are where we need to start taking our public health messages in general. Clinicians and policymakers need to figure out that no one size diet is going to fit everyone. Some folks may not want or need to “tweak,” but I’m keenly aware of circumstances where an ostensibly “healthy” diet has resulted in serious negative health outcomes, but was never questioned because it fit the standard definition of “healthy.” That kind of thinking needs to go away.
Ah, I guess I didn’t understand the distinction – it seems they’re definitely working for you then as well as the low-carb. If you’ve got the diet dialed in, then I guess portion control, hard workouts, and perhaps intermittent fasting’d may get the results you want. I’m a big fan of trying out a bunch of different things, so now you know the hormone thing is set in stone for the time being that’s one less N=1 experiment to perform (right Adele?).
Have fun 🙂
I agree. Trying a whole bunch of different things at once muddies the water in terms of experimentation–but at the same time, if you are in the mood for shaking things up, go ahead. You can always drop the intervention that appeals to you least & see if you can still cruise to where you want to be.
Stay on your hormones if they are bio-mimetic and rhythmical. The research of some female oncologists and endocrinologists over the course of the last 18 years indicates benefits that are not measurable with western ama “tests.
Try to research and draw your own conclusions from reliable sources.
You have no idea how excited I got when I found out who you are. I’m a freshman undergrad at UNC, and in English we have to do a research paper on a topic of our choosing. I’ve been Paleo/Primal/SCD for 3.5 years, so I knew I wanted to do something food related, and the research question I came up with is “Are the Dietary Guidelines for Americans really a trustworthy source for nutritional guidance?” And then via Articles+ on the UNC Library site, I found this article: “In the face of contradictory evidence: Report of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee.”
I got kind of sad, because it only took one search to figure out that my research question isn’t ‘original research’ after all. And it’s disheartening that even with the research out there, these ridiculous guidelines still exist. But anyways, I figured I’d check out the credentials of all the authors, and when I clicked on your name and “UNC Gillings School of Public Health” popped up, I think I squealed. I rarely come across people who don’t think I’m crazy when I tell them that butter is healthy, so discovering that another person at UNC is on the same page as me was super exciting!
ANYWAYS. This is kind of presumptuous of me to ask, since I’m just a random person and I’m sure you’re really busy, but if you have any advice for me on the path I should take at UNC, I would be so appreciative! All I know is that I want to fix our food/healthcare system, and there are just so many avenues that I’ve really been struggling with what to major in. I feel attracted to public policy, because I want to make really big changes and help a lot of people, as opposed to being a nutritionist or a doctor who might not have as big of an impact on the system as a whole. But I really don’t know.
Regardless, thank you for being awesome!! And for helping to provide the article that I will probably cite in my research paper (:
Alyssa – So glad to hear from you. Let’s plan a time to catch a cup of coffee or lunch. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear more about your plans.
Where have you been all my life?!?!?!?!
I’ve been LC since the late 1990s and did well for a long time. Until menopause, which hit me (like a ton of bricks) at age 50. I gained 50 pounds in 18 months, even though I didn’t change eating or activity.
I went to doctor after doctor. Eat less, exercise more! I was told that I should be exercising at maximum exertion for a full hour 7 days a week.
If you ever write a book, I’ll be first in line!
You talk sense. I’m so freakin’ tired of hearing all the 20-something males (and females, for that matter) spouting off about calories in, calories out. Obviously I’m not trying hard enough, or I’m lying (yes, I’m reading through all your blogs now).
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for gracing us with your sanity and reason … and humor!
Wow, thanks. You are certainly one of the reasons I’m compounding the delights of menopause with joys of taking qualifying exams for a PhD program 🙂 We’ve been sold a few stories that have left a generation of women eating foods, doing exercises, and hating our bodies in a way that surely would have our grandmothers assuming that television really did rot our brains, just as they said it would. It hardly matters WHAT diet it is–they all work better when you’re not running a household, caring for kids/dogs/old folks, working in/outside of your home, gestating, nursing, having hormonal whiplash, getting old, freaking out about getting old, and–in general–“having it all.”
My husband is in a band that plays soft rock cover tunes from the 70s. I’m assuming you’re old enough to remember how “I am Woman” (sung by Helen Reddy) goes? Then sing along with me:
“Yes, I ate the rice, but I ate no other grains / Yes, I paid the price / Just look how much I’ve gained / If I have to, I won’t eat anything / I am fat / I am invisible / I am WOMAN.”
And here we are. Glad to have your company on this long, strange trip.
Why, yes, that’s exactly how I remember those lyrics! (I’m passing that along to some friends … too funny not to!)
I can’t tell you how freakin’ tired I am of counting this and that. Eat more fat! Eat more protein! Eat no carbs! (OK, that last one I can do fairly easily at this point.)
Sometimes I get so blessed tired of all the rules. Geez, you go on these Paleo/Primal/LC sites and if you’re not eating grass-fed meat, organic green veggies, and taking $200 in supplements every month, you’re not doing it “right” and you might as well go back to eating Twinkies.
In one of your blogs (I’ll have to go back and read them all again to find it) you talk about how our grandmothers never counted calories. They just ate what they instictively knew was good. How pathetic is it that I can’t even imagine a life in which I didn’t count grams and calories and whatnot? Even when I’m not tracking every bite in FitDay, it’s constantly in my mind how all the macronutrients stack up.
I started my LC lifestyle around 1998 when I was in my 40s and weighed 176 pounds, having steadily gained a couple pounds year after year by following Jean Brody’s high-carb lifestyle and exercising like a fiend. Fast forward 14 years. Guess what I weigh now? You guessed it: 175 pounds. LC worked great for a while, getting me back down to the low 150s for a while. Then menopause hit and there I was in the high 190s. It’s been a struggle ever since.
So, 14 years of counting this and counting that, and I’m back where I started. Meanwhile, hubby never counts a thing, eats what he wants, and is at virtually the same weight he was back then. (Granted, he’s about 40 pounds overweight and appears to be in his fourth trimester.)
Anyway, please keep writing. I’ll keep reading.
I think one of the worst outcomes of the Dietary Guidelines is that it gave us this false promise that we would “get” something–eternal youth and health, maybe–if we just followed the “rules.” This happened at a time when women specifically were also promised we would “get” something–big paychecks, power, the corner office–if we just followed the “rules.” It has taken me 30 years to figure out that neither set of rules was created by or for women, and that we probably don’t even want what we’re supposed to “get” even if we could actually get it. Our grannies didn’t rule much–but by golly they ruled that kitchen, and that kitchen was the heart and soul of the home. Now, I don’t want to go back to those barefoot & pregnant days, but I think we need to start re-writing these rules for ourselves. Can you think of one big-name female leader in health and wellness (I’m not talking fitness, because those ladies are playing by the ripped abs and 5% bodyfat rules that the guys invented, they just happen to be able to succeed at it)? A Dr. Oz, an Andrew Weil, a Mark Sisson even? Both of my grandmothers lived to be 89. Neither had any chronic disease or took medications until (for one of them) the very last year of life. (Not yearS, year.) Both were chubs, as we say in my house. They cooked and ate and hugged and cried and didn’t worry about it. I want that life.
In the meantime there’s a whole generation of young ladies who don’t even have those women–our grannies–as role models. All they know are harried moms & grandmas who don’t cook because they don’t have time and because food you cook at home comes suspiciously without calorie counts, who try to do too much for too many for too little payback, and who have been told that the counting and measuring and restricting and limiting will work–if they just do it “right.” Are we looking at an entire nation of disorder eating and exercise patterns?
You are so right. It is crazy that we can’t imagine a life where we are not examining our food for the evils lurking within, or negotiating with ourselves about how to “justify” a slice of birthday cake. And too much of the paleo approach is less than helpful in that regard. It is just a different set of rules that we didn’t write. So, stick around. I’m going to try to write some for us.
I think I luff you. From another other just trying to figure it all out. :o)
LOL. I love your fb tag line. It really is all about food and sex. I just had a long–somewhat strange, but ultimately wonderful–conversation with my 14 year old son about how food and sex (and drugs and rock and roll) are all practically the same thing.
LOVE IT!! How right you both are! I’m enjoying your voice. Might hang around, if you don’t mind 😉
Always glad for the company. Your area of interest is–imho–where we (scientists, nutritionists, etc) should all end up eventually. It’s crazy to try to “end” childhood obesity with afterschool PE programs, when we feed women in WIC clinics such lousy food. I’m looking forward to learning more from you.
Preconception health care. That’s the shiz right there. Begin a person with a rock solid constitution and they will pretty much be able to heal from anything. It’s like anything – shaky foundations cannot support anything long-term; nutrient deficient soil grows nutrient deficient fruit. Love this stuff 🙂
For sure. In public health, we pay a lot of lip service to this idea but high quality protein and essential fats are simply not priorities in feeding low-income mommies. Folic acid, yes of course, because we can put it in Cheerios . . .